- How is Atlanta Hawks rookie Trae Young adjusting to life in the NBA? The point guard sat down with The Crossover to chat about his first season and player comparisons.
Atlanta Hawks rookie Trae Young is still adjusting his game—and life—to the NBA. On the latest episode of The Crossover's NBA podcast, Chris Mannix sat down with Young to talk about the first quarter of his first season, his welcome to the NBA moment, the constant comparisons to Luka Doncic and more.
(Listen to the latest Crossover podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Chris Mannix: We are a quarter away through your rookie season, have you had that welcome to the NBA moment yet?
Trae Young: Every night it’s a different story for me when I have a different welcome to the NBA moment. Whether it is going against Mike Conley or playing AD or guarding LeBron and him switching off on to me or me having a chance to hit a game-winner in Staples. I don’t know. I can’t just pick out one so far but it’s been a few.
Mannix: What was that moment like when LeBron switches on to you for the first time?
Young: It’s crazy. It’s like going back to high school when we were playing five-on-five at camps and things like that. But this is a different stage, different level, different type of competition; it’s like a different feel.
Mannix: How interesting is it having Vince [Carter] in your locker room?
Young: It’s great having Vince in our locker room. His locker is right next to mine, so I am able to bug him with questions and get on his nerves a little bit. But it is great to have a guy like him because he has seen it all and done it all. So it is great to have him around to ask questions.
Mannix: What is something he has been useful with you in this first 20 games?
Young: I think just all of the advice he has given me. It is kind of crazy, because he was the No. 5 pick and traded on draft night with his teammate and someone who is a really good player in Antawn Jamison. So it is kinda of crazy how similar our paths have been. Hopefully I am able to achieve some of the things he has been able to achieve in his career but it is just crazy how the start of his career was very similar to mine.
Mannix: Are you allowed to make old jokes around him?
Young: [Laughs] We do sometimes. We like to give him a hard time. But I mean he doesn’t play like he is old at all.
Mannix: There are so many adjustments going from college to the pros. Speaking to a guy that was just in college just for one year but whether it is speed, strength, skill, what will you say is the biggest thing you are adjusting to in the first part of the season?
Young: I think it is just the scouting report every night. There is always someone different especially at the point guard position and the different styles of play, different coverages, the pace of the game, that’s really the main thing for me though. I just think it is the little things that is the biggest difference for me.
Mannix: The point guard position is savage, man. I think it is the most difficult in any of the four major sports because you have to be the quarterback offensively and in the 21st century NBA, everybody has a good point guard. You said it’s Mike Conley one night, and the next night is Chris Paul or Kyrie Irving. It has to be a grind mentally for yourself.
Young: It really is. Every night it is somebody different. You have guys like Steph shooting from so deep and being able to get around you. Guys like Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker with the handle and their savvy in the game and the different styles of play. You also have to be a quarterback on defense. There are so many things you need to know and coordinate.
Mannix: At the 20-25 game mark of an NBA season, you are basically winding down a college season. Is it possible to prepare yourself for 82? What do you do for that?
Young: I think for me being a rookie it is hard to prepare. You don’t necessarily know how your body is going to handle it and how you are going to react but I think it is just something that most rookies have to go through. It’s a long NBA season and as your career goes on, it is just something that you get used too and you know how to prepare in the offseason for it. So now going into next season, I know how to prepare my body and prepare my mind to get ready for 82 games.
Mannix: Do you think you already know what the next offseason needs to be?
Young: Oh yeah. I have already been thinking about it. For me, I am always thinking about how can I get better but right now I am focusing on my team and trying to win but also at the same time, I am preparing for the future and being with this Atlanta Hawks team. We all want to build something big for the future and to be winning 60+ games. It’s not only about the now but the future.
Mannix: The constant comparisons to Stephen Curry, how have you dealt with that?
Young: I don’t really focus on that. I try to focus on the best version of myself. Everyone is going to get compared to somebody. Hopefully one day I can achieve some of the things he has achieved—being an MVP and a multi-champion. The things he has achieved is the things I want to accomplish but I know that I am not there yet.
Mannix: A lot of players come into a draft and a lot of them are linked like Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Now it is you and Luka Doncic who will be linked for the rest of your career maybe. How much scoreboard watching, highlight watching do you do on him?
Young: I watch basketball, period. Me and Luka are going to be linked for a long time. I watch him a little bit because I love watching basketball. The Mavs are a really good team and Luka is a good player. I got to know him a lot over this past summer. He’s a good person. We talked quite a bit. I watch NBA basketball, so if he is playing I will watch. If anyone is playing, I will watch as well.